Today we’re traveling to Venice (Los Angeles) to chat with Jody Forrester about how the Pacific Ocean, Nancy Drew, Edward Hopper’s house, roller skating, and being doggedly persistent come together as part of Jody’s past and current life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am that rare thing, a native Angeleno, raised mostly in
Hollywood during the fifties and sixties. I live with my husband,
musician John Schneider, in Venice (Los Angeles) just six blocks from
the Pacific Ocean.
In which genre do you write?
Primarily memoir, but also short fiction.
How many published books do you have?
My first book, a memoir called Guns Under the Bed: Memories of a Young Revolutionary, will be released on September 1, 2020, by Odyssey Books. At least six short stories and essays have been published on both online and in print literary journals.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
I wrote my first story when I was ten, pretty much lifted from the Nancy Drew books that I loved so much. Having always been an avid reader, I had a deep desire to write but it took a long time for me to have the time and confidence to pursue the dream.
What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
I revise, from what I can see, many times more than most writers. It’s not unusual for me to revise a story more than a dozen times, and my memoir required at least twice that.
What would you choose as your mascot, and why?
My dog is always close to me when I write, keeping me company and my feet warm.
What does your ideal writing space look like?
I once saw the painter Edward Hopper’s house on a bluff on Cape Cod, with a large window overlooking the ocean and surrounded by old-growth trees and wild flowers. That would be a wonderful place to write, though I wonder how much I would get done with such a view!
What are you currently reading?
Find Me, by Andre Aciman, a sequel to Call Me By Your Name. He’s one of my favorites writers and his latest book doesn’t disappoint.
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
Read, see friends, walk my dog, exercise.
What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?
When I’m on a good roll, how transporting it can be. I love how time gets swallowed up until I emerge feeling like I’ve just gone on an amazing trip.
Do you journal write or keep a personal diary?
I have a box of spiral bound journals that I began writing in when I was about eight but since I’ve been writing stories and memoir, that’s fallen to the wayside. I’m not sure why.
What do you miss about being a kid?
I did have a lot of fun riding my bike around the neighborhood, roller skating down the steepest hills I could find, and making up games and plays. But otherwise my childhood wasn’t so great, and I’m much happier as an adult.
At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?
Don’t be stopped by fear or lack of confidence. It’s all in your head, all made up, not based in reality about who you are.
Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?
I’m doggedly persistent and don’t give up easily. Otherwise, I would never get anything written because it’s always tempting to give up.
What are you currently working on?
I’m not writing now since all my concentration is on promoting my book. Marketing and writing occupy different modes of thinking and I seem to be unable to do them both at the same time.
It was great to have you be a part of MTA, Jody. Wishing you all the best! –Camilla
Where to find the book:
Guns Under the Bed: Memories of a Young Revolutionary, is available in brick-and-mortar and online bookstores and for order through Jody’s website, jodyaforrester.com.
“Jody Forrester’s memoir is at once an important eyewitness account of how American student activism in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s turned radical, and a portrait of a young woman’s struggle to find her way in the world. Guns Under the Bed traces her journey from innocence to experience, and, in doing so, offers lessons that resonate today. Heartbreaking and edifying, this story is difficult to forget.”
— Samantha Dunn, author of Not By Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life
“Evocative, compelling, terrifying, sad, and ultimately triumphant. A classic coming of age narrative about a woman who seeks a sense of belonging that she doesn’t find in her family or her body.”
— Emily Rapp Black, author of Poster Child: A Memoir (Bloomsbury USA); The Still Point of the Changing World (Penguin Press)
”Every memoir turns on a fundamental question: How did a person like this get into a place like that? In Jody Forrester’s case the question becomes distinctly fraught: How did a middle-class white girl from LA find herself a member of a deluded Maoist sect, armed to the teeth and prepared to die for the revolution? Her odyssey through the last days of the mythical 1960’s touches all the sweet spots of that time even as it illuminates some of its more shadowy corners: our red-hot anger at war and racism, our alienation from the hollow promises of a corrupt establishment, and our certainty that we could heal our hurting hearts and at the same time transform the world into a place of joy and justice. But of course there are no universals—Forrester’s journey is uniquely hers, and hers alone—no easy answers, and no casual causal claims. We see a young woman bursting to live, determined to find meaning in her life, and—for all of her mistakes and miscalculations—a woman with the courage to storm the heavens.”
Bill Ayers (Fugitive Days: A Memoir; co-founder Weather Underground)
Connect with Jody:
Website – jodyaforrester.com
FB – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001532824693
Instragram – https://www.instagram.com/jodyaforrester/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/jaforrester2
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